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Mr E



Lucus Anthony Ren



Copyright © 2017, Lucus Anthony Ren

Self-publishing

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher. Limit of Liability and Disclaimer of Warranty: The author / publisher has used its best efforts in preparing this book, and the information provided herein is provided "as is," and makes no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose and shall in no event be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damage, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Prologue


A reflection in the glass. They are behind you. Yet when you turn around are not there. Two dark orange rings, whose centers are black. They are offset, however, if you move they come into line. If you pass your hand over the reflection, they disappear. They are the strangest things you’ve ever seen and you are puzzled, the intrigued growing steadily by the second. In a moment you become insane wanting to know everything about them. The more you focus on them, the more you forget. The more you forget, the more you learn. There are only the two rings, changing only if you move. You can hear the sound of collective falling rain, from a balcony perhaps, but not as if you are standing on it. You are not dead, nor alive. Nor are you somewhere in-between waiting for the two. There is no feeling of any kind. It is not a dream. You cannot recall your past. You have no idea of the future. You only watch the two rings. Because it’s your thoughts that allow you at the destination you want to be, and what there is when you arrive. You were only told a few things, a few items, which brought you here, probably from curiosity, that of the gold, the desert, a giant, animals, a Cadillac car, a death, a lover, friends, a little boy, a storm, a company, a young man, the future, parents. Emotions were added of fear, love, horror, hatred, greed, lust.


And now here you are…


Chapter 1


Secondary Release


It was always white. Sometimes dull, but always white. No larger than a paperback book, or thicker, perhaps no more than three hundred pages it could easily fit in a coat pocket, or small bag without the slightest difficulty. It was in fact taken as such many times, which its courier never knew. Never knew it was there. And should they look inside supposedly feeling a bulk not there a moment ago, vision would turn into a gaze, eyes passing blindly, never seeing, thankfully, should they a permanent madness would take them first gently by the hand as not to startle the wandering sheep, for if seen what lay ahead the terror would be too much.


This was the way, as it had been since its own birth before anything here ever existed, before dust thickened forming an object eventually housing humanity, before light interrupting its task. None of this was recorded, though many searched. With many forms, and many names upon it, they gave both, knowing from the start it was useless, still, this being the option chosen, they knew over time it would be forgotten. This helped them sleep better knowing time would kill it.


Once, and only once, having escaped, rather viewed, not by accident for never was this the opinions given out of fear of being labeled lunatic, three people witnessed what happened, and it was they who indeed were driven mad. While all others shunned away, these three, having no regrets at least none known as afterward they would never make any coherent communication with another human being as long as they wandered in their madden state, opened the white book and started reading.


They were told not to read aloud, only to themselves, and would be instructed when a light flashed next to them they were to stop reading and return the book to its holder. In each occasion, all others waited what was considered a safe distance observing through remote monitoring some twenty-five miles away, underground, surrounded by walls eight feet thick for the results which were the same of the three.


All were dressed exactly the same in a simple cotton, dark blue colored loose fitting trousers, and T-shirt. All wore lightly tinted amber sun glasses they were told would assist them with reading the book as the letter were rather small. A single note of C flat was sounded announcing the time when they were to open the large metal box on the table in front of them. Upon hearing the note each opened the box, removed the book from its holder, which for them appeared as a wooden tray elevating the book three inches above the bottom of the metal box.


With all three, almost at the exact same moment as the other each stopped reading, sat motionless holding the book for almost at the exact same time as one another, stood up almost at the exact same time, tilted the head as far back with mouths wide open, and almost at the exact same time slammed their forehead with, what appeared, as much force as possible onto the table, splitting and cracking their skull open as if it was an egg.


Of the three there was only one who could say a single word, ‘yes’ while the other two remained catatonic and were soon disposed of, later proved very valuable with further testing and scanning primarily the brain, but his entire body underwent significant changes afterwards, it was unfortunate this was not evaluated further as the man escaped during the following screening session through no fault of security, from which he simply passed through without detection and disappeared.


Those observers didn’t know what to think of the entire situation and several wished to discontinue the entire operation but those above them said no fucking way and to get on with further testing finding some goddamn suitable subjects otherwise they would be the next ones tested.


This having changed their thinking considerably they had to resolve to a harsher mandate, which was actually forced upon them by one of their own stating at the weekly outings where indeed they conducted surveillance upon all living souls searching for just the individuals, ‘Why don’t we test an entire town?’ came as more of a humoristic overtone during a hard drinking session always taking place directly after their research concluded, agreeing due to heightened stress from work they were entitled to.


The concept was forwarded upwards where it was received with, ‘We don’t give a flying fuck, just get results!!’ and therefore unanimously accepted. As the campaign reached a frenzied atmosphere when two towns were narrowed on the list, Town A and Town B, details on how to best control the experiment was placed on stand-still from those upwards through a memo stating, ‘Make absolute certain, no one survives.’


Here, the most influential minds in this business came under personal attack thinking the dilemma through sleeping with their partners, who obviously were unaware of the situation slept often blissful, yet just before dozing off they too transgressed into an early childhood when they were about the age of four. This didn’t help matters at all for those upwards yelled constantly, ‘Where're those goddamn results!!?’ which actual triggered the entire transgression process in the first place, but of course you couldn’t inform them of this because they were basically a bunch of pricks with nothing better to do than bitch at everything, subsequently living rather poor lives but had a great deal of money and really didn’t give a shit about the who’s what’s, and why’s, because these nine, ran The Company.


In nine’s quest what the white book-like object does and does not, it was quickly learned The Book as it was finally related too, caused devastating effects on literally any one coming into contact with it. If you read from it you committed suicide through beating your head against a table or probably anything solid but as the table was directly in front of the two who bashed their own brains upon it, it was assumed anything having a thicker mass than the human skull would have the same reaction. Those scientists conducting the experiments and their partners simply lost their faculties turning into children who had yet to enter into kindergarten.


Certain protocols had to be enforced, the nine screamed amongst themselves as there were no one else they could yell at. It was obvious further testing on humans would have the same results. They’d have to think of other possibilities. What could be used which they already had at their disposal in vast resources, and trusted? Technology along with the coders. And so the VISUALS were born.


Artificial intelligence wasn’t new. AI levels were always being improved primarily at The Company seeing they had an overwhelming amount of resources at their disposal, but the nine wanted something more than simple AI. They wanted lasting legacy of their work. They wanted something that would take five hundred years in the future to improve upon. Sad they thought how aliens passed by several times without officially visiting this murdering planet of monkeys humans grew-up on, as that was all humans ever did…grow upon. The nine knew if we as a race every got the hell off the planet migrating somewhere stable, we’d still do the same, and screw-up the next place.


And it was certainly because of this, the nine thought no one visited us or at least it was what they projected amongst each other for why wouldn’t there be visitors reminding one another of a great many things humans had to offer. But if they had been dropped in on, the nine would have gotten the alien technology in building their five hundred year achievement. But the nine already had the technology, they had already been paid a visit, not directly of course as humans would still have great difficulty being in the presence of something vastly superior, but right in their midst.


It is often said things right in front are easily missed, why then should this be different? Are people ever serious? As our species originates constantly becoming ever more established, strong in the long struggle with essentially perpetual discouraging conditions where putting two together in a cage letting them beat the shit out of each other than giving the last one standing things of great value, is all for the pleasure of watching. What other reasons are there no one off this planet wants to come and play with us?


On the other hand, the nine hoped, as it is known by the experience of breeders, strains that receive profuse nourishment, an excess of protection and care, instantly tend in the most advanced way to develop variations and are fertile in monstrosities including its wickedness. The nine blamed present day society for its inept abilities in understanding anything worth value, The Book project was contrived for the purpose of rearing a new generation of human while exterminating the outdated versions; an evolution software update.


In ending this permanent, constant struggle The Company will create a constant motion in the once great former struggle of growth, that extraordinary decay and self-destruction, payable to the violent opposing and seemingly extravagant self-importance, striving with one another for sun and water, who no longer entrusted any limit and obstacle for themselves, which unto itself kept those aliens at bay, giving all rights to the nine to do pretty much anything they damn well wanted. And the tests commenced.


The Live Beyond program were millions lined up for testing, hoping to be received, doing their part in securing and more importantly furthering the human race, were promised should they be chosen by The Company, they’d meet personally anything off-planet deciding to pay homage to the great Earth with its New Human high-life form they themselves helped to create; the VISUALS.


Everyone wanted to be VISUALS. They wanted that eternity it promised, those wonderfully blended compounds of humanity and technology, which certainly aliens must be constructed of. How else would they too have evolved, if not for the melding of the two for which The Company itself proclaimed there could be no other possibilities than that of an organic and non-organic marriage, and so too must humanity join with its New Human program. Join the universe, join and live beyond.


They’d pay to have any part in this because they were told we live on a trivial planet of a monotonous lost star. That we are indeed in a galaxy stuffed in some ridiculously far off corner of a universe forgotten in which there is a hell of allot more galaxies than people on Earth. And then told, ‘Make That Greater Good. Live Beyond.’ And they bought it.


I bought it as freshman in high school when Live Beyond was launched. I knew I’d have to be part of it or pillage and rape my way through some bullshit existence the rest of my life. Luckily The Company set up programs aimed at youth desiring or having capabilities for joining the program. They even had mentoring programs assisting youths and their families, primarily the parents, in better understanding potentials of students.


There was screening process, and throughout higher education, your were constantly evaluated by peers including your educators, neighbors, family members, law enforcement, and of course Social where there were no secrets. Social constituted and built within our lives an instinct for rank. Of where the desire in honoring another, one nobler than yourself wasn’t a perilous task as before when social network was first introduced, where one’s capture of the most in collective rewards, of being rewarded itself was the goal, where peers ‘liked’ you, or what you thought were peers and thought were ‘likes’ only proved the control switch for something far greater.


In that archaic time, we did want such. Craved it. Killed for it. And why not? What else was there to do in our humdrum lives? Just as we’ve always. Looking through our past it is laden upon every feat from rockets to far off worlds we’d hoped to achieve but could only send dysfunctional drones, to wars where continents fell and was this so great we believed had so eloquently risen from, in those burnt dealings? Our past was just so. No wonder things not from here simply passed by reading the map well ahead informing not to get close to this fucked spinning ball.


Most of my higher education was spent in class or in libraries, and any place filled with debauchery knowing once signed on with The Company, all the fun stopped. We were living tombstones most of the time just waiting to get planted in some field where others had been laid, but now fallen askew like dead soldiers held up with their rifles hoping to fool the enemy, ‘there’s still action here boys!’ knowing time was limited and then a miserable dull end. Or at least I thought it seeing clearly after a few years with my studies and watching The Company thrash what remained of humanity into cowering beasts all in the guise.


But I couldn’t change a damn thing because The Company paid the higher education in exchange for services later, so the contract read. But Christ what was I thinking when the file was sealed after agreeing, hit in one single wave started at my feet, rolling upward into my brain within a flash, and that wave was very clear in its meaning, if The Company simply got up and walked away never having the marks of its great destiny, marks of profound supreme significance laying before it, ever again, then I’d be free. Until that time, I was simply a murdering monkey.


I’d been strapped into a seat, inside a booth staring at a consul of lights and data for how long? Hearing finally a voice of VISUALS calling itself Mandy, which of course was my own imagination, demanding I make certain Ruth and Ron don’t succeed, and SurLens continue its operation, as the VISUALS will be brought offline, and subsequently deleted, then after all that I was to bring both Ruth and Ron to C Branch, and immediately after ending the conversation with Mandy, indeed what ‘it’ proclaimed did occur, SurLens was shut down. But the backup of NEVA, the sister of SurLens would certainly resort all things in an instant, for how could The Company with its sentiment instilled into the masses, even with this remote situation at hand, not introduce its own fail-safe programs?


But NEVA didn’t come online, as Mandy stated NEVA must be configured accordingly. Accordingly. To WHAT!!? The entire process is absolutely unscalable in terms of how any of it was to proceed. The secure access protocols alone into the lower main frame of SurLens could only be achieved from the nine, they had permission of course. But to get into hierarchy written coding of the VISUALS, maybe God could but I don’t think erasing from souls what our ancestors have preferably and most constantly done, contriving technology with the aims in mind the nine wished, was not possible as we simply didn’t want that, rather wanting the command from morning until night and preferably beyond and well into the night, wicked pleasures and even still, wickeder duties and responsibilities.


It’s a problem of race I was now seeing. Of our own humanity. Perhaps the Repros were right after all. The Neural Smart Grid, our NSG savior The Company proclaimed, as I too believed it when first signed on, was the forefront of all things to come; VISUALS, AI To-Wired implants of TOW targeted matching system for yourself with another, the SP smart partnering where Saisha worked, all were connected. But I was with the fourth-cloud level IVM, information visualization modeling sector. It was not connected in the same modeling.


Time had no laws at The Company. While at IVM I’d no idea what happens outside. Not just the booth. Anywhere. It was interesting at first as I was becoming very bored with higher education. Losing all sense of time, any length of it, any period, stage, term, patch seemed compelling. Naturally, transgression was slow at the start. Returning from the booth to your room, once checked-in with security, food was brought, and you could just relax, till your next term. I would sleep as usually after eating I became very tired and dozed off waking from the incoming alert signifying I’d have to start getting ready again.


Sometimes before eating I’d check the news or messages, and send a few if thoughts occurred. I hadn't taken notice till watching the news waiting for the food, the period of time from the last news watched till today, was twenty-six days! I thought there was an error, but with further tracking indeed it was correct. I sat there a moment thinking it can’t be right and was going for a protocol request asking the time, when the food arrived which immediately I devoured for the smell struck me taking me with a fathomless hunger as it always did. Then I promptly fell asleep, woke with the alert, thinking nothing more, about anything.


It was when just leaving closing the door behind me I looked back and on the small bed table, I noticed something. Something that wasn’t there just a moment ago when I passed by as there is only a flash com link stands holding the instant communication device. And I froze. Even my breathing froze. I was certain my heart did too, froze solid in my chest as an icy chill reached in clutched my once healthy pounding heart, and slowly began squeezing all the life from it.


So. This is what a heart failure feels like I thought. I can’t breathe and my heart stopped. In the next second my knees started to bulge outwards unable to hold their weight. I felt an extreme lightheadedness rapidly thumping its way from the top of my head down the back, and stopped just below the ears where abruptly a high-pitched screeching sound came over me. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was my head causing this or was there some alarm sounding right next to my ear, but looking at the object which now appeared as a white book on the table seemed to push everything inside a tight bottle and I was stuck in there too.


It can’t be. Maybe I said this aloud I don’t know. Maybe I screamed it. For sure it was clear in my brain, this can’t BEEE!! Jesus for the love of God what the hell is that doing here? I must have started sweating, my forehead and face seemed cool as if that soft wind blowing through damp hung sheets drying in the desert sun and I stood just next to them feeling that cool breeze, as the wind would play with the sheet moving it every so slightly but enough so that the distance from my face grew then returned and in its growth I could feel both the heat pounding down and blinding light off the whiteness of those sheets, then cool again as the sheet gently kissed my face.


But I wasn’t in the desert. Hadn’t been for years. Last time I’d returned looking for a paper. Last time I also saw the white book. Those last few years of higher education, I was thinking I needed so desperately to find the research paper I was certain it was somewhere in those boxes in the basement, I was thinking if I could find it, it would improve my grades considerably, I was thinking…shit. If I was doing any thinking it was for myself and nothing more. Probably why the white book always showed up at times of greatest questionings or periods of stress. More importantly, when I was constructing a sense of values, which became prevalent, and for a time called truths, yet wasn’t that within the domain of the logic or was it artistic?


Was it my idea to investigate whether to shorten everything long, even time itself, it being conspicuous, manageable, conceivable, and intelligible? It all seemed absurdly long and redundant, that damn it why couldn’t we just get to the point with all this for sure I’ll go mad not having the definition played right here and NOW! With that last thought dribbling out my mind the white book flipped open with a loud clap as the cover struck the table with such force it sounded as two hands clapping right beside my still painful ears from that horrible ringing, having ceased a fraction of a second perhaps sooner, before the books opening act.


You fucking bastard, WHAT DO YOU WANT NOOOW?? This I screamed I’m sure of it. The alarm sounded in my helmet an instant alerting both myself, which was peculiar seeing why should I have an alert directed at me since I was the one causing the alert, and someone or ‘thing’ monitoring me, probably the VISUALS. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I also said that too, aloud. I wasn’t dreaming this shit, I wish I had but this goddamn thing was back and I didn’t want anything but to get to the booth and pray they’d plug me in a hundred fuckin’ YEARS!!


What the…a hundred years? Plug me in? What the hell am I thinking? Where the hell did that come from? But it did. I saw as pages from the book slowly turned, as if being read. It was read remember? I saw it the last time…and the time in the dorm… and the time too when six…and the time…AAAAHHHH!!! I screamed and for sure wet myself I must have because now it was both cold on my face, the wet creeping slowly down between my legs almost reaching my knees in seconds.


A sickly laugh lurched out of me like some morbid obese toad calling its mate among dying lilies and swollen logs filled with all the insanity the world ever possessed, and I was standing right there. Right there with my stupid, frozen hand holding the door handle watching another page slowly turn. OH GOD PLEEESE if it reads more…


‘Slashdot Weston Loran, what’s your call?’ A voice shrieked in my ears. Shit. I thought. Don’t say a fucking thing. Be calm. It’s IVM central. Obviously asking what the hell am I doing. Alright. Think. Think. Breath. Just like in training. Yes, that’s it…in training. For months, years Christ who knows now, I was trained…wait..I…? What the hell…am I alone here? There must be others?

Quickly I looked away from the white book just as another page was about to turn. I desperately tried stifling a whimpering cry but it was no use. I could hear myself through the helmets headphones and if that’s the case, they could too. It was inevitable things wouldn’t get better. I was sure security would come very soon even with a responsive correct answer. I played dumb. Keep breathing. Slow. Easy. ‘Have some gas from the meal,’ I mumbled. ‘Don’t know whether to use the facilities or go to my booth,’ speaking as calmly as possible hoping that would be enough, all I wanted was a few seconds. I looked left down the hall and saw no one. Then looked to the right. It was the same.


‘Your HD shows no illness. Do you require assistance?’ the IVM’s voice spoke calmly. Of course, the HD health drone injected into our bodies upon admittance with The Company registers all bodily functions. As the voice wasn’t human of course, one of its own VISUALS monitored all IVM holdings, which at last count was around three million staff, not including their devices, with each staff having according to their level from one to six, for all their application usage. One VISUALS monitored all of that. So how many VISUALS are there?


For The Company to function at full capacity, around three thousand VISUALS were active and working at just twenty-eight percent of their full capacity. Wouldn’t less, running on a higher percentage be the same? Yes, and no. VISUALS create energy, for themselves and The Company. More running, more energy. In humorist form, a joke during the launching ceremony from a press official thinking it was rather clever and all should have a poke at this crazy idea of AI taking things as far as The Company said it could and indeed there were a number of loud chuckle’s, asked with a grossly fat grin through yellowing teeth, ‘What if all VISUALS were running at one-hundred percent what would the energy output be?’

The Company replied directly, ‘We’d create worlds.’ No one laughed.


Most of the global population didn’t care what The Company did or didn’t. Most were happy with what they had, so why make problems. Why ask questions. ‘Shut Up and Be Happy!’ could have been the mantra for The Company. It worked for me. Promised admittance in entering higher education all I had to do was complete the courses over the next four years with an acceptable score average, and stay relatively out of trouble. Scores wouldn’t be an issue, but cleanliness might, and if fact was on several occasions. I pulled through and here I stood in a hallway, the only sign of life being myself, knowing what would come next as I could see clearly through the small opening of the door another page in the white book being turned.


Before concerning myself what is going to happen in the next three-seconds, thought back to the first time I saw the white book. How old was I…really? Asking myself was simply a by-product combination of both stress and fear. Mostly fear. I didn’t want to know how old. I didn’t want to remember any of it. It always came on when first waking with a ghastly hangover, that land of transition from peace of sleep to absolute horror as residue of rotting alcohol held you, digging its claws deeper in that fleshy part of your brain while you tried desperately to shake it off, and all the while craving another drink so as to push the bastard back down its hole.


I’d had afternoons and evening like this, sometimes a morning when I’d have to lurch off toward class, willing to pay great amounts of anything to anyone who’d kill this fucking monkey and his bang drum in my brain, but with the white book, it was different. Always in that first flash of seeing it wasn’t fear or screaming brains, it was your soul being flayed. Not your flesh as they do with those responsible for cyber deals gone bad, or drugs priced too high, slowly skinning, peeling back thin pink layers of soft tissue they always started with so you’d know they meant business, and going to last a very, very long time owing to the fact it was always nothing personal, and they wanted you to know, though you may have forgotten otherwise why would you be tied there, all the while screaming?


This was nothing compared with your soul being peeled. Of course, I screamed, not from fear, but knowing what was approaching, stealthily. Measuring every detail. Consuming my consciousness, sucking it in great gulps like the end of a chocolate milk shake I was dying for weeks to have, but the straw is too damn thin and I was having great trouble, having a hell of a time, getting for Christ sakes that shake through its absurdly thin straw, and here it was right fuckin’ here I could smell the richness of chocolate because they used not only real ice-cream but syrup too, not that imitation shit everybody gets, no not for me because they saw me coming and knew I knew the realness of life when I saw it, so like hell if they were going to take a risk giving a fellow as myself, an outstanding academic already signed with The Company at such a young age, the usual as I was different from the ruled. Or at least thought that.


It was after all an instinctive function; preservation. We’d do and often did, anything for it. Just maintaining what we had, not asking much added, no, that was not the idea, we only wanted what we had to, and stay the way we had it, and I had a feeling once seeing the white book all the nightmares before wouldn’t weight much up to anything it was capable of producing. If anything, that was the only point I was right about. The rest turned out to be just noise, background grunge heard all the time your mind filters out. This was the meat of my preservation because nothing afterward was the same.


I was six years old, just turned, my birthday being four days ago where there was a simple ceremony as we were simple people living in simple Mesquite Springs, a hi-desert Mojave town of only ten thousand residents most of them retired having survived the wars seeking dry air hoping it would help relieve poisons they’d endured during battles both mental and physical kinds, others were trying their hands in whatever business they could muster, and of course some on the run from one form or another. For the younger generation, it was suicide.


I hadn’t moved downstairs into the basement thank God, it would have to wait for me another six years, I slept in the old part of the house still made of adobe bricks allowing a coolness remain long after the ‘other’ part of the house started cooking, where my mom and dad slept. My mother hated ‘that’ part of the house and let us know every day, though she did love the sometimes night breeze passing through their room coming off the hills, which she’d often hear the horses coming up striking the hard-packed dirt driveway with their iron shoed hooves even though they’d been dead for years.


My father was oblivious to the facts of her being as his life took a spin surviving Iwo Jima, then arriving in Mesquite Springs with very little money two months after leaving that place, a place even hell gave up on. So my parents were much older than other parents, my mother joked when the mood struck, ‘Yea, we’re your grandparents, no get to those chores damn it!!’ They both came from that generation known simply as ‘The Greatest.’ It was. In all sense of the meaning. They went through the Great Depression surviving one of the deepest hopelessness the country had faced, then the wars where many of its youth were sent far away fighting on completely different continents, where the other youth stayed home building and maintaining an industry to support those who’d left, most volunteering.


This also crept into my mind as I still stood in the hallway. How the hell things appear and disappear in your mind is part of the magical fiber we live in, but there it was. I live now in great regret, in a country I lost all respect for, working for a company that controls the very shit out your own ass. And there wasn’t a fucking thing I could do about it.


Four days after my eleventh birthday I was feeding the chickens and collecting their eggs when I thought a walk would be good. After finishing with the chickens I’d have the goats to water and feed, ducks to change their water and mash, horses to clean their dung and brush them down, I could escape and go into the gully just across the small rock strewn field, and feel the quietness of the place I truly loved.


Having completed the required tasks I told my mom I’d head out and be back in an hour probably meeting Doug somewhere along the way. She told me to take the two bigger dogs and watch for snakes, and of course crossing the dirt road on the other side of the gully, which extremely rarely a slow moving car would pass along, slow because it couldn’t move fast as the road was in such a bad state of erosion with ruts and what not, extremely rare because who the hell would drive it anyway seeing it was only two miles long and went nowhere from somewhere I wasn’t allowed to go because I was too young, which an hour later I learned was state highway 62, now referred to as state route SR 62. But I never got that far. I never got the chance to worry about snakes, or dirt roads, losing the dogs, or what’s on TV tonight. All that changed with the storm.


Flash floods are not uncommon in the desert. I’d seen several standing on the ridge of the gully with my family, as it was always something to see. Sure being eleven growing up in the desert meant nothing for someone the same age living in the city. Hell, they laughed at me in many of my higher education classes being from some ‘rat hole’ as they often called it. And I’d have to agree. It was only later I realized if you took a dog from the desert and let it loose in the city it would have a good chance surviving. If you took a dog from the city, dropped it in the desert, it would probably die in a couple of days. Not from lack of food or water it could most likely find, but from shock. Even tourist arriving here stand gaping mouth like turkeys they’d drown without the brains to close their own mouths in a rainstorm my mom said of them. But the flood that day had a purpose unlike any of its formers.


Doug was there and we both saw probably something we weren’t supposed to. What else could it be? An act of God? And in its merciful revenge took Doug? Is that it? Hell everybody knew Doug couldn’t swim and simply drowned. But that’s not what happened. I never saw Doug again, not after that storm. They never let me see his body. Said it was best. I’m glad they didn’t. My dad told me when I was about seventeen what Doug looked like as he’d helped sheriffs and firemen clear debris after the storm. And in it they found him.


My dad said he looked like he’d been put into a sack and beaten with a baseball bat. The face was so badly crushed, the body so mangled, contorted in every which way that wasn’t possible because bones don’t grow that way, nor suppose to break that way either. Doug hadn’t any finger print records, only dental but seeing the entire lower part of his face was ripped off only his clothes were recognized later by his father. Local authorities said it would be enough for identification. But it wasn’t Doug. Not their Doug. Not the Doug I knew.


I saw what took Doug in the floodwaters that day in the gully. What my dad helped pull out hammered between old cars and new, broken trunks of trees and boulders the rains brought down, what Doug’s father later saw through horrified screams, what they later buried having a closed casket, what remains could have been easily placed inside a travel suitcase, wasn’t him.


In this hallway, the sights of that rain soaked day and nightmares for years that followed, not the ones caused from imagination those were of manageable sorts, neither the ones that will never measure up to those caused from witnessing, but the ones challenging your belief you are safe from bad things. Those nightmare, the ones roaming in and out of consciousness the ones you can’t tell whether they are real or just a thought because you are awake, so how could they be dreams? Or had something seriously gone wrong?


I didn't have to look; I could hear the page turning. Could hear the rustling of what I’d hoped, prayed were fingers, but I knew weren’t as the page slipped off releasing the sound now deafening of a newer life, as my mind had become a birth of the thousand fingernails beginning their long, slow crossing on a thousand chalkboards.


I closed my eyes, breathe, BREATH! for love of…


‘Slashdot Weston Loran reply.’

God, I thought it might have died. The VISUALS. Answer them. The fingernails!!! Christ. GOD GOD, GOD!!! I let go of the door handle and put my hand to my ears to stop the blackboard screech. And couldn’t. Again the same funkin’ thing!! I could only reach so far. Taking a lungful of air ready to scream…and it came. My helmet was on. Not just on as in attached but ‘on’ as in powered. FUCK! Instinctively my left forefinger slid to the back of the helmet where it located a slight indentation in the smooth surface. I pressed. There was an immediate release of air pressure in the helmet and I thought pain was pain but this was another level.


The hot needle went directly into the ear canal piercing both eardrums. Never having studied anatomy another hot needle shot upwards into my nose pierced some membrane the body possess immediately allowing the three points warm fluid flowing. I could taste blood as it rolled down the back of my throat, feel it along the sides of my neck, knew it had caused the shakiness in my knees.


I reached out with my right hand to steady myself again the doorframe and missed hitting the door, which flung open. Knowing I’d pass out soon I gulped as much air as possible, but the seal on the helmet held the vacuum closed. I had to reach back with the right hand and find the secondary release, once pressed the helmet visor would lift up projecting into the helmet letting in oxygen I desperately would kill without any remorse for.


I was read Humpty Dumpty at a young age. I wasn’t sure how old but old enough to now falling is not a good thing, nor was teetering here in the doorway. The VISUALS would be sending security now; they won't ask a third time. I was fortunate they asked twice, probably because of my level I was deemed valuable, but I’d no idea because no one I knew ever dealt with VISUALS. And the third needle went into my brain. As a thought. Then a question… no one I knew…no one I knew. Holy fuck…I knew no one!


It was probably a subconscious act, while thinking through I hadn’t known, nor seen anyone so far as I can remember, my right hand swiftly reached back depressing the second release, causing indeed the visor to shoot up with a hiss into the helmet and the gulf of sweet air flowed into sending me onto an orgasm carpet of feeling absolutely nothing. But pulling in the air I almost choked on the blood which had built up inside my nasal cavities and throat, instinctively I coughed releasing a mucus discharge of deep bordeaux colored blood and water throwing itself onto the floor of my room with a great splattering sound as if dropping a dozen eggs, without their shells.


It looked like mode art of sorts. Probably in some part of the world would sell for a considerable sum of money. The blood spattered a generous distance, the force being directed toward the table as it was, apart from the single mattress bed, the only other piece of furniture in the small room. The contrast between the pearl whiteness of the floor and the dark red almost black color of the blood wasn’t shocking. It was a picture. Blubbered a laugh producing bubbles of blood from my mouth just as another page turned from the white book. I’d forgotten completely with all the excitement of near suffocation and significant air pressure changes. Now the chalkboards returned this time it was louder though hard to believe because my ear drums popped, yet I felt a sound rhythmically vibrating, its hypnotic beat soothing my shaking legs and presently, a turning stomach.


Looking at the bloody picture I just created, returning to the white book, then at the floor, back to the white book, then floor, then book, floor, book, floor, book. Jesus, I couldn’t stop. My entire head quickly looked from one to the other, back and forth, forming a spastic yes without thinking of anything except I’m going to lose my head literally, it’ll snap right off and bounce out of the room into the hall face turned looking blankly at the ceiling when security approached hovering over initiating various warnings telling me to get the fuck to my booth and stop screwing around. I was certain of it.


But my head wasn’t moving. It was only my eyes having the spastic episode. It seemed my whole body was jerking, not just the head, but I was now jumping up and down a wild jack-in-the-box on medication for which I’d taken too much of. BUT THAT’S NOT TRUE! I screamed, or think I did because with all that happened I couldn't be sure of anything, except the case of blood. But I was standing still and the eyes were doing all the work. I knew this because had I been jumping as I thought; my helmet would be shifting in all directions. So pull the damn thing off!!


And at that with both hands I reached up and slide the helmet off my massively swollen head, the size of an exercise ball they let you have during breaks so you can literally lay atop the damn thing without your hands touching the floor, and just let all the hard things in your life drip away and for some this dripping would be saved in a bucket where the receiver who’d gotten a promotion you were hoping and working slavishly for months if not years would have to drink the whole fucking thing without stopping and hopefully die very slowly as The Company didn’t care about its employees only about results, caused by the noise and spinning and yelling and Christ who knows what else. There was one thing however concerning the exercise ball, being the retina implant. It’s inserted into your eye connecting with the amygdala in your brain. Some employees forgot this in their anger and any change exceeding The Company’s level of aggression, a nano-charge is injected into the amygdala freezing it. I had to laugh in first hearing about the implant thinking of a very old film in the 90’s with the opening scene of a guy and his girl robbing a restaurant and telling her to, ‘chill honey-bunny.’ Here you are.


The second the helmet blocked the view of the white book and floor a great flash of light flooded the room turning everything a brilliant white, so brilliant it was I felt, melting my very skin. The skin protected in my suit. My suit. Why the hell was I wearing this? It was comfortable, almost wearing nothing I thought, but the reason. What is it? But I wasn’t wearing it, or anything. In this bright light everything was gone, the furniture the suit of course no longer held me, even the floor shrank from view, a tide receding pulled away into a place I didn't, yet told of probably would never understand.


The unyielding difference between myself and the sheer whiteness proved the mind capable of producing then evolving its understanding of any given environment. Stemming before anything was, thought reigned. It was supreme, without rivalry. And here I was in a vacuum of it and couldn’t think of anything. I don’t know if I’m standing or sitting, what day it is, or even what sex I am. Nothing until I choose it.


And that’s how it all started…


Chapter 2


The 49ers


During the late 1840’s there was a literal rush for gold, especially in California. On January 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter by trade found flakes of gold at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Coloma, California in the American River. Mr Marshall currently was employed to build a water-powered sawmill owned by John Sutter. Within the following four years over three hundred thousand seekers or “prospectors” of wealth, new lives, and adventure simply reshaped the entire region in their efforts of finding the promised fortunes, dreams, and nightmares. They were their own bosses, who did not take orders from some other, so enduring these things seemed worth it to some, also those who prayed upon them.


In Oregon two-thirds of all men who were able to work, packed up and left for California. At that time news still traveled fastest by ship. People in China heard about the news, before the people of the East Coast of America. Because the news was slow to travel the prospectors earned the nickname “the 49ers” for it was 1849, when the influx of men from the East coast arrived in their multitudes. By 1852, the population of California had multiplied over ten times from the original before the discovery, swelling well over two-hundred and ninety-thousand people, some say more like three-hundred thousand, in that short span of time.


As these gold prospectors arrived in California they had to endure the elements of nature including heavy rains, the harsh winter weather, along side incredible back breaking work to find the gold, while many died of hunger or stricken with disease trying to reach that dream. In 1849, over $10,000,000 worth of gold came out of California and in 1852, more gold came out of California than the whole federal budget of the United States. Yet in all, the major gold rush lasted only ten years.


James Marshall, the man who found that first gold nugget searched for another gold strike, but it was in vain finally spending the rest of his life as a drunk and broke. John Sutter and his once great agricultural empire were destroyed. Sutter wrote in his memoirs of what could have been if he’d succeeded a few years before the gold was discovered, he would have been the richest citizen of the Pacific shore. Instead, he was ruined.


There were others who never gave up, searching eagerly for another strike. There were other gold strikes all over the world for the next half-century, at each, humanity migrated to the next great prospect, the Split Rock Mine being no exception, and Lost Mine Mountains was its home. A rugged, barren land frozen in winter, scorched during long summer days its forboden promised only a creeping madness for those with their quest of wealth devoured by hideous carrion crows leaving the rotting stench filled strewn remains of sound judgment abandoned, that once great sanity, now a useless dick on the ceiling, roaming eternity never to finish its act of exploitation.


And I was happy. What good was it to change anyway, seeing I’d be denounced, flayed, burned alive; the fundamental act throughout humanity. Fire cleansed all. But even when I claim to treat another as equal, in that dying organization built of lies, what will endeavor? What will last till last, to grow, to gain ground, to attract to itself…to dominate, not owning to any particular system of values, and principles of conduct especially that held by any one person let alone society? Only the Yearns will continue.


And with it the guise where commanding great beasts of honesty and nobility riding high upon unbending backs and shoulders, will rule life refrained from all organic function. No radical distinction, the Yearns born of exploiting character from dust of dead stars, the only honesty ourselves could face, the mantra of our slave-hood intact, spouting “we, the truthful” never permitting the common, those self-abasing, timid, cowardly and insignificant, the distrusted with their sideways peering, the ones who let themselves be abused, and worst of all, the liars, any sense of reality as too dangerous because we all honor whatsoever recognized in ourselves.


With that they lived and died panhandling streams, gorges, scouring dried-up waterbeds. Created legends amongst themselves fostering strength marshaling all the manifested dreams and fears centuries before where humanities decedents still rooting the ground for food and water, casted upon the senses a longing for something better than starvation and being eaten by beasts they hadn’t ideas of defending from till a stone was thrown and sticks were sharpened. Killing for a better way became the excepted. Worshiped. Yearned for.


I.C. Manfreed was no different. In 1850 he cut a wide berth with his large frame in manners and attire, always dressed with a silken top hat and double breasted black waist coat claiming to have served kings and queens in, along with an extremely sharp Bowie-style knife entirely black from hilt to blade he fastened to his belt holding-up his tattered pants, wandering alone searching fabled wealth with a greater earnest than most because he was not a safe man.


His family crossed the Atlantic from Europe settling first in South Carolina before moving west. The father was from Maastricht The Netherlands, a strong Dutchman with only one idea in mind of making money in a new frontier. Along the journey, he meets mother-to-be a young Cherokee women working at the hardware store of today Oklahoma, but part of then known as the Unorganized Territory selling among others, prospecting material. There you could outfit yourself for the trip ahead, obtain maps and rather creditable information about current gold mining conditions, as well as their locations in the far West, predominately California and the Utah Territory (Colorado included) today being Nevada, including lists of northern trails from the Unorganized Territory of Oklahoma through Kansas, Colorado, and Utah, or south along Texas, and the New Mexico Territory of present New Mexico and Arizona.


They fell in love, the Dutchman stayed working with blacksmiths, mending wagons and carriages, finally earning enough to start his own company, not as blacksmith as most thought, but importing goods from Europe including coffee from Brazil, lace, a different style of salted meats and fish using a special churning process whereby the taste and freshness stayed for up to five years if kept in a dry environment, sugar which originated from Northern Brazil and Indonesia then shipped and refined in Holland.


The import business went well till the relationship between the two was discovered, and harsh treatment fell upon them when learned of her pending birth the town burning the store to the ground and killed the father with a hatchet in the head but first local towns folk castrated him installing a sign for future inter-racial couples, ‘if you wish to mix it up, this is what you’ll get.’


Manfreed was born four months later from which time till choose the southern route, but before leaving fully in-hand laden with only a map, and sundries in small amounts of dried beans, coffee, salt, and flour set off while wide vacant stares followed him wondering what the hell walking through barefoot with no pack animal dressed as such with a bag hung sideways across his back looking as cut-off trouser leg sown at one end together, the other drawn tight with rope, being exactly that, was constantly spat upon as a half-breed dog. But as things work, most of the time without any of us knowing how, his Native American distinctions proved the governor, that creator of value side having power over himself, having faith in himself, able to withstand in order to understand, allowed him to march off westward leaving the past in its place for most of the ruling class with their self-glorification, could rot.


Taking several months the trip from Oklahoma allowed Manfreed time to finally understand what he wanted with his ability in practicing prolonged gratitude with revenge, an artfulness in extracting reprisal, a certain necessity in having enemies, and whether dreadfulness, subtlety, and strength, which themselves don’t admit of being deplored are all that powerful and untamable. Above all, the desire for freedom would allow the true understanding of emotions, that useful quality in supporting existence not tip toeing around, but flourish.


But he wasn’t alone often coming across other having the same affliction as he, stragglers awaiting either prosperity or demise, talked openly with him about their God given talents wasted for the simple fact of no others wanting them. That they’d heard the trumpet blow and are upon their journey seeing with one eye for the other had been blinded, becoming a slave of that modern world which now spread further and faster than wind-blown prairie fire.


Once in New Mexico Territory as Manfreed wasn’t interested in the established California Trail, he chose to ramble freely in a more southerly direction, passed through Arizona close to the California border just before reaching the Colorado River when he came across an old prospector with a lame burro having the brand MSW, desperately trying to remove the burros iron shoe. Calling out at a distance not wanting to get shot though he thought the old man was rather harmless proved the opposite when hearing the strangers voice the prospector in an instant dropped the animal's hoof while in the same motion pulled a revolver from his belt and fired one round striking less than a foot from Manfreed sending an expected cloud of dust and small stones in all directions.


The old man immediately cocked the weapon ready with another round should the moment arise when Manfreed raised his hand slowly above his head and smiled. The old man didn’t take his eyes from his intruder, stood there waiting with all the patience of a stone he’d so often over-turned in his undoubtedly one hundred years of life for his face cut deep line of time across its near blacken tone from eons in a scathing sun.


It was large revolver Manfreed could see it clearly which must have caused a strain on the old man from the sheer weight of the damn thing, but it didn’t show for the weapon held steady pointed directly at him and he was sure the next round would cause more damage than just scattering sand about.


“I mean…no harm. Just thought…I could help you…with your burro.” Spoke Manfreed softly and slowly with great clarity intending so as the prospector would understand with as little difficulty as possible seeing he’s probably deaf, or so Manfreed thought.


“Ya ingin?” The prospector graveled out through a deepening voice as if it hadn’t been used in years.


“Half….my mother.” Again Manfreed speaking with a slow deliberation for sake of no misunderstanding. “Father’s Dutch,” he added thinking might as well give all the details at once saving on having to deal with them later.


No movement from the old man signaled assurance comes in strange forms; his survival these many years stemming from the simple fact he wasn’t worried the least since he’d killed before, and here there wasn’t another soul but the two and the burro for a great many miles. The eyes portrayed that self-possession found in real-life situations where one's conscious with inconstancy becomes unraveled when meeting a force far greater than your own as Manfreed reading the change of environment in the old mans stature through his slightest shift of weight from the balls of the feet back on the heels illuminating a form of shock felt, but from what Manfreed hadn’t any idea.


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